Time limits at the employment tribunal claim

If you are considering filing a claim with an employment tribunal because you received poor treatment at work, you also need to examine whether you have enough time to do so.

This is due to the severe time restrictions set by the tribunals on how long may pass between the occurrence(s) you wish to make a claim for and the moment at which you actually submit a claim for a tribunal judgment.

The primary time restrictions for the various types of claims are briefly described in this guide, along with advice on how to get past them.

For further details, see our practical guide to employment tribunals as well as our guide to your tribunal experience as a claimant.

Why are time limits for tribunal claims so important?

Many employees have run into trouble and been unable to file claims simply because they failed to adhere to the timeframes that the tribunals have imposed for filing employment tribunal cases.

You must begin Acas Pre-Claim Conciliation three months, minus one day, after the date of the act you wish to complain about in order to almost all claims.

These deadlines are strictly adhered to, and the only time they may be extended is if filing a claim within that period of time after the effective date of your employment termination was not “reasonably possible” (normally the last day worked).

Case law has applied a fairly strict interpretation of the “reasonably practical” criteria and determined that even if the employee was unwell or hospitalised, they may have filed a claim within the deadline.

Therefore, you should never presume that the time constraints may be extended in your specific situation.

Time limits for different kinds of employment tribunal claim

Claims of unfair dismissal

The statute of limitations for allegations of unjust dismissal is three months, minus one day.

Therefore, if you were fired wrongfully on September 1st, you must start Pre-Claim Conciliation by December 31st at midnight.

Claims of discrimination

For accusations of discrimination, the time restriction is three months plus one day. The period of time begins with the most recent act of discrimination or the final act in a string of discriminatory acts.

Therefore, whether or not you are still employed, if you experienced discrimination at work on March 14, you must start the pre-claim conciliation process by June 13th.

When it is “fair and equitable,” the tribunal may decide to extend this deadline. 

This might be the case, for instance, if a grievance procedure was continuing. Generally speaking, the tribunal must evaluate whether or not permitting a claim to be submitted outside of the customary time constraints is equitable to the parties. Although it is a little less strict for discrimination claims, you still have three months plus one day to take action.

Injury-related claims

  • There are two basic ways to file a personal injury claim:
  • When you have both a personal injury claim and a claim for discrimination, or only a claim for personal injury.

Personal injury as a component of a claim of discrimination

You may file a claim for personal injury in an employment tribunal in addition to a claim for discrimination if you were the victim of discrimination and as a result also suffered personal injury in the form of psychological injury.

The time limits for the personal injury claim would be the same as for the discrimination claim because the claim is being made in a tribunal: 3 months minus one day. (For more information, see our guide on discrimination compensation.)

Personal harm as a stand-alone claim

Otherwise, a civil court (such as County Court) rather than an employment tribunal would handle personal damage claims (whether physical or psychological).

The time restriction for such injuries in certain situations is three years from the date of the injury or the date you first realised you had an injury.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as in cases of sexual abuse, but they are uncommon.

Why does the date on your notice of termination matter in tribunal proceedings?

In tribunal disputes, the effective date of your notice of dismissal is extremely important since it can determine whether you are permitted to present a claim or not.

Unless your contract specifies otherwise, your notice of termination from your job normally becomes effective the day after it is provided, whether it is given to you verbally or in writing, in person or electronically.

The following instance, though it is an old one, nonetheless serves as a fair illustration of what might occur when the effective date of your dismissal notice is unclear:

In the matter of Dr. T. Wang v. University of Keele, Dr. Wang received an email with a letter of dismissal and three months’ notice at 4.40 pm on November 3, 2008. Dr. Wang filed a Tribunal claim in response to his termination on May 2, 2009. He was unsuccessful, nevertheless, as the judge thought his claim was filed more than the required three months from the date of termination. According to the judge, rather than the day after he was served, his notice began to be effective the day he received and opened the email containing it. Dr. Wang filed an appeal with the Employment Appeal Tribunal contesting this judgment. They decided that notice would begin to take effect the following day unless an employee’s contract stipulated that it would do so immediately after being served.

 No matter how or when a notice of termination is delivered, it applies in this case. Even if it is served after business hours, it will become effective the next day. This case demonstrates the significance of the termination date, for instance, when your employer attempts to terminate your employment before you have accrued the two years of service necessary to file a regular unfair dismissal claim. You can choose when to submit a tribunal claim using the case as a guide. The ruling indicated that Dr. Wang’s claim was timely in his case. 

So be careful to take action and get in touch with Acas if you have resigned or been fired and are negotiating a settlement agreement but time is running out (see below).

Additionally, take action to submit your tribunal claim form within the required window of time.

Acas Early Conciliation and time limits

Before beginning tribunal procedures for the majority of cases, an ACAS Early Conciliation Notification form must be completed. Early Conciliation (EC) is a strategy that aims to persuade the employee and employer to come to an agreement before submitting a tribunal claim form and formally starting tribunal procedures.

The time restriction clock for bringing the proceedings is virtually stopped when an Acas EC Notification form is submitted, and it will restart once the EC process is over. In most cases, the EC’s impact will give you, the claimant, time to file your claim. However, the regulations are intricate, so you should see a professional for guidance.

Top tips

  • Make sure you adhere to the rigorous deadlines for filing claims.
  • Normally, they are 3 months less a day from the date of the termination or prejudice.
  • You must submit your claim within that time frame; do not wait until the last minute.

What can you do if you’re out of time to make a claim?

You should get assistance right away if you haven’t filed your employment tribunal claim within the allotted period.

If it is too late to file a claim with the tribunal, you may still be entitled to file a claim in the civil courts for contract breach, harassment, or personal injury, depending on the kind of claim.

The only claims that have such severe time constraints and that you can only bring in employment tribunals (as opposed to civil courts) are those for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

However, in general, if you have passed the deadline to file a claim, it will be challenging for you to negotiate a fair separation compensation because your employer will be aware of the tough situation you are in. 

Next steps

Consider retaining counsel for your case. At Clarity Simplicity, we have a great deal of expertise in assisting individuals in resolving their conflicts with their employers through both out-of-court settlements and employment tribunals.

Get in touch with us to learn more about the kind of assistance we may provide for your employment situation.

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